Eurozone finance ministers finally agreed today to hand over the next tranche of Greece's bailout loans to prevent it from going bankrupt.
The cash-strapped country will get a total of €49.1bn (£40bn) between now and March, with €34.3bn (£28bn) due immediately.
In return for money to see Greece through the winter months, its government has been forced to commit to further austerity measures, including yet more spending cuts and tax increases.
It also had to complete a bond buyback programme which means that it will buy back €31.9bn (£26bn) of its bonds at a huge profit to speculators who have hoovered up the country's devalued debt for pennies.
"Today's decision on the Greek programme will remove the clouds hanging over Greece," European commissioner for monetary affairs Olli Rehn claimed, with little apparent justification.
The austerity measures demanded by the country's creditors has contributed to a crushing recession.
today's figures from the country's statistics office showed unemployment at a record high of 24.8 per cent in the third quarter of 2012, compared with 17.7 per cent in the same three months a year ago.
The meeting of the 17 eurozone finance ministers followed hard on the heels of an all-night meeting of finance ministers from all 27 countries in the European Union, in which they agreed to create a single supervisor for banks, a key component of a fully fledged banking union - supposedly a single rulebook for all banks.
The agreement will make the European Central Bank the supervisor for banks in the eurozone and any other country in the EU that wants to opt in.
"Piece by piece, brick by brick, the banking union will be built on this first fundamental step," claimed EU finance commissioner Michel Barnier.
Banks with assets over €30bn (£25bn) or that represent 20 per cent of their national economies will be placed under direct oversight.
"Painstakingly, we advance the cause of Europe," said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.
It is unlikely that millions of unemployed Greeks, Spaniards, Portuguese and Irish workers will agree with him.
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